Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious chronic disease that can significantly lead to harmful consequences. This condition is often characterized by developing an unhealthy alcohol use pattern that becomes uncontrollable over time.
Alcohol, for many adults, is often part of socializing or relaxation. In many countries globally, it also serves as a part of their culture. However, like other substances, they can be misused and abused. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol abuse leads to 3 million deaths every year, or 5.3 percent of all deaths globally.
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of other chronic diseases. In fact, alcohol is among the causes of over 200 disease and injury conditions. In addition, AUD can cause social, economic, and work problems.
There are certain levels of AUD, from mild, to moderate or severe. It is best to act on it as soon as the first few symptoms appear. Here are five signs that you may be developing a drinking problem or AUD.
- Drinking Alone and in Secrecy
Drinking a glass of wine at night to relax or calm the day’s nerves can be fine. However, drinking uncontrollably more than what you can handle, alone and in secrecy, can be a sign of more serious use of alcohol.
Drinking alone can be caused by deeper emotional or psychological issues. Many people resort to alcohol when dealing with grief, sadness, abandonment, or depression. It serves as some self-medication, as they try to shut functions of the brain to forget about unwanted feelings even for a short time.
Drinking alone to cope with emotional distress is unhealthy and can lead to developing a pattern of relying on alcohol when experiencing negative feelings or emotions. Isolating yourself and drinking in secrecy may have an underlying cause, which needs to be checked and addressed as soon as possible before it leads to a serious drinking problem or AUD.
- Prioritizing Drinking Over Responsibilities
Moderate social drinking after work or during social events is nothing to be worried about. However, putting drinking alcohol first on top of anything, including responsibilities and day-to-day tasks, is a sign of a drinking problem.
If you notice yourself prioritizing alcohol before your work, chores, or your own food, it means you are developing an attachment to it. People with alcohol use disorder may believe that they need it to function. Hence it is always among their priorities daily. Most of them no longer think about how it can affect their normal function and how they can carry out tasks and responsibilities throughout the day, which causes further issues at work or at home.
- Your Work or Relationship Is Suffering as a Result of Your Drinking
Alcohol has a direct effect on the human brain and can cause changes in a person’s mood and even long-term personality. Suppose you have issues at work or problems with your relationships with family or friends due to drinking. In that case, you may be developing a drinking problem.
Loss inhibition, inability to focus and plan, decreased organization skills, memory loss, and poor judgment are some of alcohol’s short-term effects on the brain. This can affect an individual’s productivity at work. It can also affect one’s ability to communicate and empathize with others and foster healthy relationships.
Moreover, long-term alcohol abuse can lead to serious mental issues, including difficulty forming new memories, personality changes, depression, and hallucinations. It can even advance to worsened cognitive decline, where impaired speech, vision, and bowel and bladder functions. More than just affecting someone’s social life, alcohol can lead to serious physical illnesses that impede an individual’s ability to function and connect to the world and people.
- Unable to Stop or Control the Amount of Alcohol Consumed
Having an alcohol use disorder or AUD doesn’t mean a person simply cannot discipline themself. AUD is a chronic brain disease that can be inherited through genetics or developed over time due to underlying psychological conditions. It may manifest as a lack of control over the amount of alcohol you consume or the inability to stop yourself when you start drinking.
Social and responsible drinking can be okay, but exceeding the normal average drinks can lead to developing alcohol-related health issues and can advance into a more severe AUD. On average, having more than four drinks a day, or more than 14 drinks a week for men and more than three drinks daily, or more than seven drinks a week for women and elderlies (aged 65 above) is considered risky. This means they can highly develop AUD if not given medical attention immediately.
If you are experiencing difficulties in managing and controlling your alcohol intake, seek medical help through drug detox and rehabilitation centers. For instance, the Massachusetts alcohol and substance abuse center offers a patient-focused experience tailored to the individual patient’s needs.
- You’ve Gotten Into Legal Trouble
A major sign that you are having drinking problems and it is escalating to something more serious is that you are starting to get into legal trouble. This can include economic or behavioral factors, like getting into too much debt or being arrested for doing criminal acts because of alcohol.
A human’s conscious mind is often aware of right and wrong, of abiding by laws and logical rules of society. However, alcohol can severely affect a person’s mind and blur reality, especially when used and abused over a long time. This leads to committing unlawful actions, from not paying dues and liabilities to engaging in violent crimes or destructing properties.
Do Not Be Afraid to Seek Help
Alcohol use disorder is a serious illness. Upon noticing the first few signs, the best step is to get checked by professionals to address the problems and prevent them from advancing into a more severe condition that can be more difficult to control or reverse.
Addiction and AUD can be treated with proper care and assistance like any other illness. There are medicines and behavioral therapies available, and there are also organizations and institutions providing help to people who want to recover. It is more than okay and is a human right to get checked and seek help for any form of substance abuse, including drinking problems and AUD.